The long, cold, awful winter of 2015 is finally behind us... but are your winter blues still lingering on? We've got 11 tips to help you put a smile on your face and a spring in your step to take on the warmer months!
The past few months have been filled with snow, cold, and shorter daylight hours that can have a very real effect on our energy levels, mood, and vitality. The decrease in vitamin D exposure, sunlight enjoyment, and time outdoors during the winter all attribute to this. Vitamin D is called the sunshine vitamin because we get it from the sun–and it really helps us feel “sunshiney”! Without sunlight and adequate levels, you may feel your mood slumping a little low. It’s also been shown that being outside in nature every day can lower depression and anxiety, boost mood, calm the mind, and relax even the busiest of people. So, without your sunshine and the outdoors during the winter, it’s no wonder you’re feeling a little blue.
However, this "blue" feeling can continue all the way through the warmer months. We can all experience bad days, low moods, or just "off" moments in our life. Being bright and cheerful isn't always easy, but there are things you can do to turn that frown upside down.
Try out these 11 tried and true mood-boosting tips. These will help you relax mentally, emotionally, and physically. They’re free, they’re easy, and I guarantee at least one of them will help you feel a little more sunny.
1. Do some deep breathing. You’ll be surprised at what oxygen can do to refresh your mind and calm you down. Also, simply concentrating on breathing in and out slowly and deeply can boost your mood.
2. Get up and exercise! Physical activity is an amazing stress reliever. Get out there and take part in whatever suits your lifestyle – jogging, biking, taking part in sports, dancing, taking a fitness class… it doesn’t matter what it is, just get moving! Plus, exercise releases endorphins, a powerful natural mood lifter. You’ll be surprised at how good (and stress-free) you feel after your workout!
3. Schedule some me time. Whether it’s a bubble bath, a good book, a favourite CD that mellows you out, make time for it! During this time, try and disconnect yourself from the electronic world: turn off your cell phone, close your laptop, don’t check your emails. Having time to yourself means not communicating with the rest of the world!
4. Focus on whole foods. Fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes provide nourishment and are very balancing. Avoid foods like sugar, caffeine, and alcohol, as these foods put extra stress on the body – sometimes without you even realizing it.
5. Go to bed when your body tells you it’s time. If you fight off the initial fatigue in the evening, your body will produce more cortisol (the stress hormone that helps to wake us up in the morning). This causes both physical and mental stress. Plus, your adrenals (little glands that release hormones in reaction to stress) repair between 10pm and 2am – so make sure you get some shut-eye!
6. Oats are a nourishing tonic. Oats are nourishing for the nervous system, and they have the ability to reduce stress and fatigue while promoting relaxation. Try starting your day with a bowl of delicious warming oatmeal!
7. Get extra nutrients! Vitamin C, B5 (pantothenic acid), and magnesium are all critical to the proper functioning of the adrenal glands, which are responsible for regulating our stress response. Supplementing with these nutrients will help ensure your diet is well-rounded and your stress manageable. Plus, supplementing with vitamin D will ensure you get adequate amounts, even in the colder months.
8. Consider trying yoga or meditation. No matter what kind of day you’ve had, simply taking part in a yoga class or meditating can make you forget your worries and put your mind (and body) at ease. Plus, yoga is great for muscle toning!
9. Enjoy yourself. Don’t always get caught up in trying to get things done. Take a moment to actually enjoy your day and the people you’re with! Try to pick out one thing a day to be grateful for, and write it down. By the end of the year, you’ll have 365 reasons to smile – and reading them through will make you feel lucky indeed.
10. Bask in the sun. Even if you can’t be outside in the sunshine during the cold winter, take a half hour each day to find some sun beaming through a window and bask in it. Read a book, enjoy a tea, or maybe just work from your couch–whatever it takes, take in those rays!
11. Don’t forget to smile. It’s contagious, and making others happy will make you happy, too!
Article by: Laura Stokoe, CNP, RNCP (Goodness Me! Healthy Living Advisor)